Letitia Hall, "Threshold of a Century: the Diary of Louisa Adams Park, 1800-1801"


What concerned her most were the people and happenings of her daily life. Warren was frequently sick with teething, colds, or inflamed ears. Family members came and went, amusing her with their adventures and worrying her with their illnesses. She had her daily work and a network of friends which kept her busy. She confided in her diary as she counted the weeks John had been gone.

During her husband's long sea cruises, Louisa made extended visits to her parents in Acton, Massachusetts and her husband's parents in Windham, New Hampshire. When not visiting with family, she lived in Salisbury Village, Massachusetts, where she had rooms in a house with two sisters, Mrs. Fowler and Mrs. Lumbard, whose husbands were merchant ship captains.42  She used the term "home" to describe her room in Salisbury as well as her parents' home, but for her, "home" was also a dream. She longed to have her husband with her, and in her diary wrote imaginings of the two of them together with their son. "With thee I would fly to some remote, some solitary home; there would we...enjoy the luxuries of life–rich in blessing each other. ...Then I might hope to preserve my child his innocence."43

Louisa's living arrangements were not unusual and became more common as the nineteenth century progressed; wives of men who were at sea for long periods of time turned increasingly to family or to other women in similar straights to meet their housing needs. As the economy turned more toward families being supported by the wages of a husband and father, seamen's wives shared housing to save money, or because it seemed inappropriate to live without a man in the house. Their letters show that they shared Louisa's feeling that they were not really "at home."44

42. Park, Diary, introduction written by John Park, July 1848.
43. Park, Diary, December 27, 1800.
44. Lisa Norling, "How Frought with Sorrow and Heartpangs": Mariners' Wives and the Ideology of Domesticity in New England, 1790-1880," New England Quarterly 65 (September 1992) 437-439.
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